When Spencer was 13 months old, he needed to have hernia repair surgery. It was a straightforward procedure and common for premies to need. It was also one that I’d scrubbed in on myself when I worked in the OR at Children’s in Chicago. But when it’s on your own baby, it’s just a whole different story.
Spencer was a very happy baby. Well, that is, once he grew some more and became a finished baby. When he was born, he was the smallest at 2 pounds, 11 ounces. I was afraid he had a syndrome because his ears were so low. But it was just because his jaw was so underdeveloped when he was born, all that hadn’t shifted up yet. He was still a little undercooked. By the time he'd grown into a regular baby, and not just a premie, he was perfectly fine, his ears had moved where they were supposed to be, and I could stop being a pessimistic nurse and let him be the happy, normal kid his was, giggling all day long. We have videos of family life when they were a year or so, and suddenly, a photobomb of Spencer. Only instead of in the back, his happy little face would pop up right in front, in the foreground of what was going on, and he’d let out a string of giggles. Little could phase him, and if it did, it took just one word of encouragement or a hug and he’d be off and playing again.
When it was time for his surgery, I wasn’t a nut case with worry or anything (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). But it was a different experience being the mom instead of the nurse. I had an idea of how I wanted things to go, so I arranged with the anesthesiologist for me to go into the OR with Spencer for his induction (that’s when you’re put to sleep with anesthesia). That way, he never had to be out of my care until he was unconscious. And I could see what kind of care he was going to get, check out their set up, and spend some time with the staff. (Yeah, it was about at this stage when I was a nurse that I'd see a parent come in and think, Ah, one of those parents.)
In the OR, I put him on the table and the doctor put the mask over his face. His little big eyes looked up at me like, “Mom, what’s going on here?” but I reassured him and he wasn’t too freaked. After all, Mom was only inches away. The doctor reminded me not to hover too closely over him or I’d get induced myself and keel over. I noticed the smell and realized I was breathing in the gas myself, so I stood up for a fresh breath. It was right as Spencer fell asleep, and fortunately I didn’t. It was a peaceful induction for him.
Jason and I waited for him back in his room. After about an hour or so the anesthesiologist and Spencer’s nurse walked into the room carrying him. He was calm and content, almost happy looking.
Then he saw us.
He started crying like I’d never seen him cry. Of course he had his history of protracted, silent cries when he got hurt that turned him blue and sometimes unconscious. But this was one of those, “Mom, why’d you leave me, where have you been, Dad, you weren’t there when I woke up, why did you let these strangers have me?” kind of cries. He was heartbroken. Inconsolable. He cried for nearly an hour. And it wasn’t pain. It was heartbreak. For all of us. Our poor little baby!
After he got out his sobs and told us through his wailing nonverbals everything he thought about it, he stopped crying, looked up and smiled at us. The rest of the hospital stay, he smiled and giggled, and was back to his old self. He was okay. And so finally I could be too.
Want my stories delivered right to your inbox? I can do that! Click the button below to sign up and I'll make sure to send my post right to you each day that I blog.